Have you got an exciting new job, working on a new project, want everyone to know about your own business, had something published or exhibited? Perhaps you are getting married or had a baby? Whatever your news, we would love to hear about it and share it with your fellow alumni.


Liam BinksEarly Years Education with QTS, class of 2014 

Liam Binks, “I’m originally from Washington, Sunderland and I am the third generation of teachers in my family, my mam and gran were both early years teachers.  

I now work for Durham County Council as early years lead and class teacher.  My next step would be to establish myself at another school and develop their reception provision and after this to become a deputy headhopefully when I am a lot older and wiser, to become a head teacher. 

University of Cumbria changed my life. I met my partner Lauren, she was in the same class as me.  If I hadn’t gone to uni we wouldn’t have had a horror of a three year old at home but also we wouldn’t have had the lovely 10 years we’ve had together. My career has definitely been the result of my degree as I am a specialised practitioner in children’s learning between ages 3-7 which is something that no one else in our school has. 

Deborah Seward is my staff role model. She was an incredible lecturer who really knew all the students on the course. She really cares about her job and children. She inspired us, she created effective teachers with the correct morals and respect needed. She was understanding, so helpful, interesting, but above all, she was caring and respectful at all times (like having a mam away from home). 

The best thing I learnt was how important our children are and every second we are in class with them counts. Also, to have respect for yourself and the hours you put into your degree to demonstrate understanding. We earn the status of being a teacher through those gruelling but interesting assignments! 

I love being a reception teacherI think it’s the funniest, most interesting job in the world. Apart from the bodily fluids, I love every aspect of the job! Every day is totally different and little people are so blunt and raw, they just say whatever is on their mind. The impact I feel that I have on the children is great too. The fact that the majority come into my class unable to recognise letter sounds and then leave able to read sentences is such a brilliant part of my job. 

My advice to today’s students would be to keep going and plodding on with assignments as they are hard but are worth it in the long run. Once you have your degree it can’t be taken away from you! Also, I got a 2:2 and it seems to be fine with my employers. But make the most of it! Go out and partyyou won’t be able to do it all the same ever again! 


Kieran Cooper, Performing Arts, class of 2013 

Kieran Cooper, “As cliche as it sounds the most important thing I learnt at UoC was just to be confident in what I do, believe in myself and keep going with the goals I want to achieve.  

As a student I wanted to learn all that I could about performing and ultimately get a career in performing arts. I was amazed at how much we actually learnt about every aspect of performing arts; acting, directing, stage management, musical theatre. Really digging deep into the art of performing and looking at practitioners. I wasn’t sure what area I wanted to advance to but the tutors were so understanding, they had a lot of time for me, really diagnosing my performance and giving me lots of feedback. At that stage I needed a lot of work, and a lot of teaching.   

I dread to think where I would be without my degree, I wouldn’t have come this far, or it would’ve taken me a heck lot longer to achieve.  The thing is it’s not just a degree, you learn so much more about yourself about life, money etc. 

Beccy Barnes is my staff role model. She was amazing, she really taught me a lot, not just about performing but about myself. I still think of her every now and again, she is one of the main reasons why I am where I am today. 

I have so many memorable and funny stories from uni days. One that sticks into my head is at our halls of residence. I was in block B, my fellow students were in block A and C opposite ours. We had fights for domination, all in jest of course. We would sneak into the other blocks and ambush them, throw water balloons, all sorts of stupid stuff, but it what made us all so close.  

I currently work as the bar manger for Dirty Blondes Bar in Blackpool and I’ve got into stand-up comedy, an area I would never thought I would go in.  I first started gigging around Cumbria and around the north-west during my time at UoC and even participated in an Edinburgh Fringe show. I absolutely love it! Making people laugh is the greatest gift of them all. 

I now have my own comedy club in Blackpool and I have been really successful. The comedy club is doing really well.  Looking to the future I want to keep improving my comedy club, get bigger and better acts. I’m also thinking of putting on a comedy festival in my home town of Blackpool, I would also like to have my own show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.” 


Follow Kieran’s Facebook page for full details of all his upcoming comedy nights  




Vincent Walden, Graphic Design and Illustration, class of 2016 

Katie Lock, Illustration, class of 2016 

Vincent and Katie2, “Since graduating from graphic design and illustration in 2016, I've been in a number of positions around Cumbria now finding myself running my own business—Studio Walden, a eco-friendly design studio. Now working for myself I've been allowed the time and freedom to follow projects that I'm passionate about. The main project that I've been developing is a creative podcast with fellow 2016 graduate Katie Lock. 

A Space for Oddities explores and archives the oddities of the creative sphere, powered by cheap booze, giggles and silly voices. With episodes covering topics such as Comic Sans, Hip-hop, Russian prison tattoos and the blackest black. Recorded in the Atlas Works in Carlisle, it's grounded in Cumbria with both hosts moving from North Lancashire to Cumbria for university and remaining friends and collaborators since. 

a space for odditiies, With our infamous 'pretend pub' section in the middle of each episode, you're able to learn about a creative topic, enjoy a bit of silliness and perhaps learn an oddity worthy of some cool points at the pub. Don't worry though, this isn't a strictly business podcast, from impromptu yodelling to rubbish impressions there is a whole first season of episodes to enjoy and learn from. 

We're currently working on our second season by developing concepts, music and sourcing a sponsor to hopefully build on our success so far.” 

A Space For Oddities is available on multiple platforms, including Google Podcasts and Spotify. 


Follow Vincent’s work here:  




Paula Bond, Design Crafts, class of 1997 

Paula Bond, “I chose Cumbria because there were only two courses available at the time that combined ceramics and textiles and I fell in love with Carlisle. I loved that it was a city but still felt small and safe. I loved the red stone and the architecture. I loved the feel of the campus with all the creative courses and all the different facilities available. 

My ambition when I started studying was to be a professional artist and yes, I'm now living the dream!  My course gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams and believe that I could be an artist. 

One of the most important things I learnt was how to take an idea through to a finished piece/project. I also learnt to be open and fluid in my creativity and that whatever you make, someone isn't going to like it and that's good. 

I am a self-employed ceramic artist and teacher; my company is called Paula Armstrong Ceramics. I am really proud of my studio and how welcoming, comfortable and accessible it is. I love seeing students' faces light up when something they've made comes out of the kiln and they love it! I also love watching people's faces when they see a piece of my work for the first time and seeing the surprise when they look closer. 

My plans for the future are to take Paula Armstrong Ceramics global! The pandemic meant I had to move my focus much more online and I'd really like to grow that side of the business. I have a studio membership and regular classes and workshops at my studio in Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire that I'd like to continue developing alongside exhibiting and selling my ceramic sculptures. 

My advice to anyone who wishes to become an artist is to expect the unexpected and go with the flow, keeping your eyes open for opportunities but always keeping focused on your end goal.” 


You can find Paula and follow her work here:  





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